State Senators are considering a proposal to make Missouri a Right-to-Work state.
A committee’s looking at a measure similar to a bill already passed by the House in the first week of the legislative session.
A right to work law would let workers who receive union representation opt out of paying union dues.
At last week’s Senate committee hearing, Greg Mourad with the National Right to Work Committee said unions have too much power in the state.
“Under current law in Missouri, employees who never requested union representation can be forced to accept a labor union as their exclusive monopoly bargaining agent” said Mourad. “Then, rubbing salt in the wound, they can be forced to pay for representation they do not want, never asked for, and in fact believe they would be better off without.”
The committee heard from an evenly divided group of people representing both sides of the issue. Committee Chairman Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis) rotated both sides evenly through the hearing, which lasted nearly two hours.
Sheryl Rodarmel with National Nurses United said nurses are boosted by union representation. “She is the person who talks to the physicians” said Rodarmel. “She’s the person who educates the family. Without these, I know the voice of nurses have been silenced for years until we have begun to become more of an advocate for ourselves through my union.”
Matt Patterson with the Americans for Tax Reform Center for Worker Freedom supports the measure. He accused unions of being too political.
“I like to tell my liberal friends ‘How would you feel if you were told by your boss, if you want to keep working here you have to join and pay dues to the National Rifle Association’” said Patterson. “They would be outraged, and rightfully so. The NRA’s a political organization. They have a political agenda. Some people don’t support that agenda. No one should have to choose over whether to keep a job, support a family, or support an organization that’s overtly political.”
The Senate committee’s expected to vote on its right to work proposal Wednesday. The House version is set to go before its chamber the same day.
The Republican dominated legislature has passed right to work legislation numerous times in recent years, only to have it vetoed by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon. With new GOP Governor Eric Greitens now in office, the party is poised to rocket the legislation into law.
Shannon Cooper is a former Republican Missouri House member from Clinton who is now a lobbyist. He represents the Carpenter’s Council of St. Louis and Kansas City, which has 20,000 members in 34 Local Unions from Missouri, Kansas, and Southern Illinois
Cooper said he strongly opposes right to work laws, but is resigned to the legislation passing in Missouri.
“I know where we’re going, and we all know where we’re going” said Cooper. “There’s no need to sit here and beat each other up. On behalf of our 20,000 members, we’re going to celebrate the councils’ 135th birthday this year. We have survived uncertain political climates. We have survived recessions and depressions. And we’ll get through this. We’re not happy. They’ll never understand why you did this.”
The Senate committee hearing the right to work proposal is also looking at a measure which would require public employee unions to get written consent before withholding union dues from paychecks. Both pieces of legislation dealing with labor laws are sponsored by Senator Dan Brown (R-Rolla).